Automation of a Planning Area Backup to an InfoCube via a Process Chain

  • by Alok Jaiswal, Consultant, Infosys Limited
  • January 5, 2017
Learn the process flow for automating the extraction of data from a planning area to backup cubes via a process chain in an SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO) database. This is an extension of the SCM Expert article “How to Carry Out Data Extraction from a Planning Area in SAP APO.” Follow a step-by-step procedure to understand the prerequisites, importance, and configuration steps with the help of an example case study.
Learning Objectives

By reading this article, you will learn about:

  • Prerequisite objects to extract data from a planning area in Demand Planning
  • Process chain creation
  • Linking various process chain steps, executing these steps, and interpreting the results
Key Concept
Demand Planning in SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO) helps to generate forecasts based on historical values. A planning area is one of the most important functions in SAP APO. A planning area is where most of the planning activities take place. A planning area groups together both characteristics and key figures under a single domain. Characteristics are master data fields that have specific values defined for business (for example, a product name). Key figures are transactional data fields that usually refer to a quantity or numeric value (for example, an amount). Planning area data resides within liveCache, a database that resides in memory and is used to speed up planning and processing capabilities within SAP APO. InfoCubes are central, multidimensional data models that are used for data backup and reporting purposes in an SAP system. By extracting the data, the system saves forecast data in a backup cube and it can be further used for reporting purposes. Process chains, as the name implies, are a sequence of chained processes with each of the processes carrying out a specific task in the given context.

Demand Planning (DP) within SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO) helps to generate forecasts based on historical values. A planning area is one of the most important functions in both DP and Supply Network Planning (SNP). It defines the area in which most of the planning activities take place, grouping together both characteristics and key figures under a single domain. To maintain data consistency and to avoid loss of data, it is generally a good practice to back up the data in the planning area to an InfoCube.

SAP APO does not need a separate SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) instance as it is built on top of SAP BW technology and uses many SAP BW objects, such as InfoObjects and InfoCubes. Although SAP APO is a separate information warehouse that is needed to support the planning process, planning data can be saved in SAP BW objects such as InfoCubes for better reporting.

Figure 1 shows the extraction steps involved in loading the data from a planning area to the backup cube.


Figure 1
Data flow of extraction steps

Business Scenario

Consider an example of an automobile manufacturer that makes cars with various models. Historical sales data is used to carry out forecasting with different statistical forecasting models to develop the baseline forecast. The forecast is carried out at different regions, and these regions are then consolidated at the global level. This forecast is then released from DP to SNP to carry out multilevel and downstream planning. As part of a monthly sales and operations planning (S&OP) process, sales regions, field teams, marketing, finance, and operations share knowledge to improve forecasts through collaborative forecast development.

As part of the DP setup, the following objects are used as characteristics to carry out the monthly S&OP process:

  • APO product
  • APO location
  • Region
  • Country/market
  • Territory
  • Brand
  • Model year
  • Forecast type
  • Customer

Prerequisite Objects to Extract Data from a Planning Area in DP

In this section I describe a list of objects that would be used in the process chain to automate the entire process of data extraction. To learn how these are configured and created, refer to the first article, “How to Carry Out Data Extraction from a Planning Area in SAP APO.” The objects are:

  • Backup cube
  • Data source
  • Transformation
  • Data transfer process
  • InfoPackage

To view the contents of the backup cube, execute transaction code LISTCUBE. In the main screen that appears (Figure 2), enter the name of the cube (ZPA_BACK) in the InfoProvider field and click the execute icon.


Figure 2
Enter the name of the cube in the InfoProvider field

Alok Jaiswal

Alok Jaiswal is a consultant at Infosys Limited.

He has more than six years of experience in IT and ERP consulting and in supply chain management (SCM). He has worked on various SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO) modules such as Demand Planning (DP), Production Planning/Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS), Supply Network Planning (SNP), and Core Interface (CIF) at various stages of the project life cycle.

He is also an APICS-certified CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Planner) consultant, with exposure in functional areas of demand planning, lean management, value stream mapping, and inventory management across manufacturing, healthcare, and textile sectors.


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